Cockroach Lifespan: How Long Do Cockroaches Live?

Written by Volia Nikaci
Published: February 20, 2022
Image Credit luis2499/Shutterstock.com
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Stumbling across a cockroach in your home or while outside is never a pleasant find. As humans, many of us tend to find cockroaches repulsive. Many of us are aware of the health and safety dangers connected with cockroach infestations, such as allergies and asthma caused by cockroach allergens. 

However, no matter what you think about cockroaches, these bugs are here to stay. Believe it or not, cockroaches are actually a pretty fascinating and durable pest with some strange behavior and survival methods. Cockroaches, for example, spend 75% of their time sleeping. They can also endure temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Curious to find out more about this tiny pest? In this article, you’ll learn all about how long cockroaches live and what their average life cycle looks like. 

Quick Crash Course on Cockroaches

Cockroach profile shot
There are around 4,000 different species of cockroaches in the world.

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Cockroaches may be pests, but did you know that they are actually found all around the world?

They have been around since prehistoric times, about 350 million years. They may have looked slightly different in appearance, but overall, cockroaches today are quite similar to the ones that roamed the earth hundreds of millions of years ago. 

There are more than 4,000 different cockroach species, but only a handful, such as the American cockroach, Oriental cockroach, and German cockroach, are known to infiltrate homes as pests. The most prevalent species are German cockroaches. South America is home to the biggest species. This cockroach is 6 inches long on average and has a 1-foot wingspan. Keep in mind that the average cockroaches range in size from 1/2′′ to 2′′.

Cockroaches move quickly, despite the fact that they sleep for most of the day. They may dart around your house at 3 mph. Baby cockroaches are nearly as fast as adult cockroaches.

How Long Do Cockroaches Live?

The lifespan of a cockroach can be as long as 5 years, depending on its species and diet.

Almabes – Public Domain

The average cockroach lifespan is anywhere between twenty to thirty weeks all the way to five years. Their lifespan greatly depends on their species and the amount of food and water accessible to them. 

Let’s take a look at the lifespans of a few different cockroach species: 

  • German cockroaches have a lifespan of about 200 days.
  • The Madagascar hissing cockroach may live for up to five years.
  • The American cockroach has a one-year lifespan.
  • The Oriental cockroach has an average lifespan of 180 days. 

Interestingly enough, there are actually bacteria that dwell in roaches and aid in their survival. Surprisingly, they contain microorganisms in their bodies that they inherited from their parents. These bacteria feed on the cockroach and give the cockroach the vitamins and amino acids that it requires to thrive. 

This means that cockroaches never actually have to worry about what they eat. They don’t even have to look for nutrient-dense meals. They can eat almost anything and yet acquire the nutrition they require to thrive.

Research has also found that there is a relationship between body size and lifespan in Speckled cockroaches. These findings suggest that there is a strong connection between body size and aging in this species, and that larger size confers a survival benefit. 

The Average Cockroach Life Cycle 

Understanding how long cockroaches live is a great way to improve our knowledge of them. Now that we know how long they can live, let’s find out more about their average life cycle. 

The cockroach life cycle can be broken down into three different stages: egg, nymph, and adult. 

Egg

Cockroaches attract mates via pheromones, and males engage in courting behaviors such as posturing and stridulation. When cockroaches mate, the female lays eggs within three to seven days. An ootheca is an egg covering produced by the female cockroach. The female adheres this egg case to a surface, which is concealed away somewhere, using her saliva. There might be many hundred eggs, each harboring a cockroach larva. To keep the cockroach eggs secure, they will be hidden away.

Nymph

It takes approximately a month for the eggs to hatch while they are gestating and the larva within grows. These larvae are referred to as nymphs. The juvenile cockroaches will go through several more phases, molting (losing their skin) and getting larger and larger until they resemble the cockroach we can recognize. It takes three to four months for eggs to develop into adults. Cockroaches undergo incomplete metamorphosis, which means that nymphs resemble adults except for the development of their wings and genitalia.

Adulthood

When the cockroach matures, it will develop wings and antennae. It will also be mature enough to mate and breed. They will continue to live out their lives and continue mating and giving birth to new baby roaches. 

What Factors Impact the Cockroach Lifespan?

We’ve all heard the old saying that cockroaches would “inherit the world” if mankind is annihilated in a nuclear war. However, it does make sense when you take into account the resilience of cockroaches. 

Cockroaches are some of the toughest insects. Some of them can go a month without eating and thrive on scarce resources like the adhesive on the back of postage stamps. Thanks to the bacteria that live on them, they don’t need to eat the highest quality food items. 

If you didn’t believe they were resilient, you will when you find out that they can also live up to a week without its head. They do not rely on their mouth or head to breathe because of their open circulatory system. This means that the roach will only really die because they can no longer drink water. 

Though some die naturally, many more enter the food chain as prey for cockroach predators. They are often a meal for amphibians such as toads and frogs, small mammals such as mice and shrews, as well as a meal for larger insects such as beetles, spiders, and other arachnids.

A few parasitic wasps also prey on cockroaches. These wasps will deposit their eggs within the egg casings of the cockroaches. Overall though, cockroaches are incredibly tough and can withstand many conditions. 

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About the Author

Volia Nikaci is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

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